A Sri Lankan refugee boat with 200 people believed to be on board capsized off Australia's remote Christmas Island today, with police saying scores could have died.
The accident, which unfolded mid-afternoon in Indonesian waters, could become one of the worst refugee boat disasters off Australia since the SIEV X sank in 2001, killing 353 of the more than 400 asylum-seekers on board.
Australia's Maritime Safety Authority said the ship issued a distress call about 3pm and capsized 120 nautical miles north of the Indian Ocean territory, some 2,600 kilometres from the Australian mainland.
Some of the very early reports suggest that up to 75 people may have drowned.
Cargo ship WSA Dragon and Australian military vessel HMAS Wollongong were on the scene and were preparing to recover survivors from the water, while a defence aircraft dropped life-rafts which could hold 60 people.